Destination Retail

April 30, 2007
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A handful of developments not currently present in West Michigan are renowned for their ability to attract additional investment. Commercial Quarterly asked Bill Bussey, retail advisor and vice president of Grubb & Ellis|Paramount Commerce in Grand Rapids, if they are the real deal.

Outlet Malls? No.

“A lot of outlet malls have had trouble in the last few years,” said Bussey. “The original concept of outlet malls was that they had to be 25 miles away from major malls and major cities. They were an off-highway destination that didn’t impinge on merchants in the malls.”

With rapid overexpansion already hurting the industry, the discount destinations have been crippled by severe discounting at normal retail operations such as Target and Wal-Mart.

Cabela’s? Yes.

The granddaddy of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear stores has the ability to remake a region.

“Dundee used to be the middle of nowhere; now whole busloads go there,” said Bussey of the six-year-old Southeast Michigan store. “It’s a tourist attraction. Meijer just bought a site in front of the store, and there will be a lot more development. … There are hotels and franchises that just follow Cabela’s around.”

Casino? No.

A West Michigan casino likely won’t lead to significant retail investment — at least not any of the casinos currently under development.

“Tribal casinos do not create as much additional business as people would like to think they do,” said Bussey. “It’s not Vegas. Most of the people that go are day trippers. It’s not that they don’t ever go into town and buy stuff, but they’re more likely to just spend their quarters and go home.”

Also, tribal casinos are likely to have restaurants and a resort component, complete with onsite golf course and hotels, creating a self-enclosed island of commercial development.

An urban casino might be a different story and could attract additional investment.

Lifestyle Center? Yes.

Wherever the region’s first lifestyle center is built, it will have an immediate impact on West Michigan shopping and dining, Bussey said. The booming luxury goods market prefers these faux Main Street shopping centers to big-box shopping malls. CQ

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